It’s no secret that Rick Ware Racing doesn’t contend for wins every week, but 2020 was still a year to be celebrated for the team.
Going into its fifth season of NASCAR Cup Series racing, RWR has undergone massive growth since entering the the top level of NASCAR back in 2017. At the beginning of 2020, four RWR teams attempting to make the show in the Daytona 500. Three teams did, the most notable being the No. 53 team that was rebranded as the No. 36 and driven by David Ragan in his final 500 in a partnership with Front Row Motorsports.
In the end, Ragan managed to get RWR its best finish in its Cup history. Avoiding Ryan Newman‘s horrific crash on the frontstretch, Ragan came home for a fourth-place result, a big win not just for RWR but also FRM. A great way to start out the season, that finish seemed to give the team a reason to celebrate in what would soon become a very hectic year.
On May 13, RWR announced it had purchased Premium Motorsports’ Nos. 15 and 27 teams. Bringing driver Brennan Poole and his charter over to the team, RWR still ran the car under the Premium name, and it changed the No. 52 to the No. 27, giving the team often five teams week in and week out on the track
With Poole under the team’s banner, RWR had a full-time driver racing for the team. Since its inception, the team has always run a cacophony of assorted drivers in its ever-growing stable of entries; even while JJ Yeley and Joey Gase were announced as full-time drivers for the organization for 2020, neither ended up racing the full schedule.
Due to sponsorship issues, Poole was put on the sidelines at Bristol Motor Speedway in favor of Yeley but was back the following week, running all but one race in 2020. Poole’s best finish with RWR ended up ninth at the fall Talladega Superspeedway race, making it only the second time in team history that one of its cars finished in the top 10.
Along with Poole’s ninth at Talladega, that same race happened to be good outings for the other two RWR cars as well. Gase picked up the No. 51’s best finish with a 17th, while Cody Ware‘s 19th was the top result for the No. 27/52.
A total of 11 drivers raced for the team this year, which included a bit of a headline-making moment when former IMSA driver James Davison joined the team for a handful of races at the end of the season.
In the owners points, Poole’s No. 15 finished 32nd and was the highest amongst the RWR cars. The No. 27/52 came home in 33rd, while the No. 53 was back in 36th. The No. 51 ended up 38th, while the No.54 didn’t receive any points and was not classified in the standings after only attempting the Daytona 500.
In addition to their Cup efforts, Rick Ware Racing ventured into a few other series as well. In a partnership with Dale Coyne Racing, Ware fielded the No. 51 Jacob Companies Honda at the Indianapolis 500, with Davison as its driver. Its race lasted all of six laps before a fire in one of the front wheels ended Davison’s day. Despite the last-place finish, it didn’t deter RWR from announcing its intention to run more NTT IndyCar Series races in the future.
Purchasing two LMP-2 Ligier chassis, the team competed full time in the 2019-20 Asian Le Mans Series. Running the Nos. 52 and 25 entries, the team scored its first win at the 4 Hours of the Bend in Australia. RWR logged three total victories during the season between its two cars and took the overall championship in the LMP2 Am class essentially by default, being the only team to contest the full season in its class.
The team also ventured back into the Xfinity Series, forming a partnership with SS Green Light Racing team early in the season. The partnership allowed Dotter’s No. 07 car to continue to run, albeit using Ware’s drivers. The team also ran its own No. 17 car twice, with Cody Ware finishing seventh at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL and Yeley leading five laps en route to a 14th-place finish at Martinsville Speedway.
RWR plans to field four full-time Cup cars in 2021, with the announced numbers being the Nos. 15, 51, 52 and 53. The No. 51 car is the only car to be revealed to the public so far, with the announcement that Nurtec ODT will serve as the full season primary sponsor. For the first time in the team’s history, they will be able to field a car with a full season of funding. No drivers have been announced for the 2021 season yet.